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Individual Paris-Brest Recipe & Video

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Paris Brest is a French pastry that was invented to commemorate the Paris to Brest cycling race. It consists of a ring of choux pastry (to make it look like a bicycle wheel), that is cut in half and filled with a delicious Hazelnut Praline Cream (Hazelnut Mousseline). The finishing touch is a dusting of powdered sugar.

For this Paris Brest recipe we are making seven individual pastries. The idea for individual servings came from a Pastry Class I took at the San Francisco Baking Institute (SFBI). Choux pastry is unique in that it's first cooked on the stove top and then it's baked in the oven. You start by adding flour to a boiled mixture of butter and water/milk (like a roux). The mixture is cooked until it forms a smooth ball of dough. Next, it's removed from the heat and beaten eggs are added until you have a smooth, thick, and shiny paste-like dough. This paste is then piped into the ring shapes. Each choux is lightly brushed with an egg wash and then sprinkled with shaved almonds. The choux is baked, first at a high temperature so the pastry will rise quickly (leaving a hollow center) and to set the structure of the choux. Then the temperature is reduced and it is baked further to allow the outside of the shell to become firm, while at the same time allowing the inside of the pastry to dry out. Because if the inside dough is still very wet, the choux pastry will soften and deflate upon cooling. 

Once the Paris Brest has cooled, it's cut in half horizontally and filled with a delicious Hazelnut Praline Cream, known as Hazelnut Mousseline. This is a combination of pastry cream, butter, and hazelnut praline paste (I used the brand Love n Bake). However, you can replace the hazelnut praline paste with Nutella, pistachio paste, or even peanut butter. The important thing when making this cream is to have the pastry cream and butter at the same temperature (65 - 70 degree F) (18 - 21 C) so you will achieve a smooth textured cream.

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Paris Brest: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw 7 - 3 1/2 inch (9 cm) circles on the parchment paper to use as a guide when piping the choux pastry.

Choux Pastry: Put the butter, milk, water, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan, placed over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and, with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, stir in the flour. Place your saucepan back over medium-low heat and stir constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick, shiny and smooth ball (about 1 minute).

Transfer the dough to your electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or you can use a hand mixer), and beat on low speed a minute or two to release the steam from the dough. Once the dough is lukewarm, add about 3/4 of the lightly beaten eggs (dough will separate and then come together) and continue to mix, on low speed, until you have a smooth thick paste (dough will fall from a spoon in a non-ragged "V" shape). (See video for demonstration.) If necessary, add more beaten egg until you get the correct consistency.

Transfer the dough to a large piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) star tip (I used an Ateco #825). Pipe a 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick ring of dough just inside each 3 1/2 inch (9 cm) circle that is drawn on the parchment paper.

Egg Wash: In a small bowl whisk the egg. With a pastry brush, brush the glaze gently on the top and sides of the choux. Sprinkle with the shaved or sliced almonds. 

Bake for 20 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Bake for a further 25-30 minutes or until the choux pastry is a golden brown color, puffed, and crisp. (Do not open the oven door while the choux pastry bakes or it might deflate.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Pastry Cream: In a medium-sized heatproof bowl, whisk 1/2 the sugar (35 grams) with the cornstarch. Whisk in the egg yolks until you have a smooth paste.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring the milk and remaining sugar (30 grams) just to boiling (just until milk starts to foam up.) Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. (If you get a few pieces of egg (curdling) in the mixture, pour through a strainer.) Pour the egg mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, reduce heat slightly and continue to whisk mixture constantly for another two minutes until it becomes thick. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the vanilla extract (if using). Pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool to room temperature. If not using right away refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days. 

Hazelnut Praline Cream: Have the pastry cream and butter at the same temperature (between 65 - 70 degrees F (18 - 21 degrees C)). Place the pastry cream and butter in the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (can also use a hand mixer). Beat on medium high speed until light and fluffy and very smooth (about 2 - 3 minutes). Stir the praline paste until smooth (as it is quite thick) and then add to the pastry cream mixture and beat until smooth. Place the Praline Cream in a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip (I used an Ateco #825).

To Assemble: Split the rings of choux in half horizontally using a serrated knife. Pipe the Praline Cream into the  bottom half of choux. If the Praline Cream is soft place the bottom halves of choux, filled with the Praline Cream, into the refrigerator until firm (about 20 - 30 minutes). Then place the top half of the choux on the Praline Cream and dust the top of each Paris Brest with powdered (confectioners or icing) sugar. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate. Best served within 24 hours.

Makes 7 - 3 1/2 inch (9 cm) Paris Brest.

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Choux Pastry:

4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter, diced

1/4 cup (60 ml/grams) whole (full fat) milk

1/4 cup (60 ml/grams) water

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) salt

1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) granulated white sugar

1/2 cup (65 grams) all purpose flour, sifted

2 large (100 grams) eggs, at room temperature (lightly beaten)

Egg Wash:

1 large (50 grams) egg, at room temperature

1/2 cup (50 grams) shaved or sliced almonds

Pastry Cream:

1 1/4 cups (300 ml/grams) whole (full fat) milk

4 large (65 grams) egg yolks, at room temperature

1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar, divided

2 1/2 tablespoons (23 grams) cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste (optional)

Hazelnut Praline Cream (Hazelnut Mousseline):

1 1/4 cups (300 grams) Pastry Cream, at room temperature (65 - 70 F) (18 - 21 C) (see recipe above)

6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature (65 - 70 F) (18 - 21 C)

1/4 cup (75 grams) Hazelnut Praline Paste, at room temperature

Garnish:

Powdered (Confectioners or icing) sugar

 

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